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AM Power Report: Dailies could kick start week mixed with load forecasts

Price activity for day-ahead power could be choppy in the week's opening session Monday, Feb. 26, as varied demand outlooks for Tuesday combine with recent volatility in natural gas.

Ending the prior session down just 0.9-cent, NYMEX March natural gas futures were moving higher early Monday on short covering and buying ahead of the afternoon expiration of the contract. At 6:30 a.m. ET, March natural gas futures were up 4.6 cents to $2.671/MMBtu, while April natural gas futures were up 6.0 cents to $2.717/MMBtu.

Next-day natural gas prices at the major consuming hubs could advance in many cases Monday, with sustained gains in futures offering upside support for values.

On the demand side, grid operators anticipate diverging load as the fresh workweek unfolds.

In the Northeast, demand in New England is called to reach 16,000 MW on Monday and 15,600 MW on Tuesday, while load in New York is poised to slump as it is forecast to top out at 19,151 MW on Monday and 18,853 MW on Tuesday. In the Mid-Atlantic, PJM Western region demand could also decline as it is projected to hit highs at 51,451 MW at the return of the business week and 51,308 MW on Tuesday, while PJM Mid-Atlantic load could hold near steady at peaks at 34,260 MW on Monday and 34,280 MW on Tuesday.

In the Midwest, demand in the PJM AEP region is seen rising to crest at 16,129 MW on Monday and 16,644 MW on Tuesday, while load in PJM ComEd is set to unwind as it is expected to see highs at 11,856 MW on Monday and 11,452 MW on Tuesday.

In the South, load in Texas should near 39,725 MW at the start of the fresh workweek and 39,975 MW on Tuesday, joining the uptrend. In the West, California demand will likely touch a high near 29,500 MW on Monday and 29,700 MW on Tuesday.

Along the forward curve, power values for March were mixed but mostly lower ahead of the weekend, in line with retreating front-month natural gas futures that implied cheaper fueling costs.

In the East, March power was quoted in the low to mid-$30s in transactions off more than $3 day on day in New England but up about 10 cents against the broad downtrend at PJM West. Power for April delivery was marked in the low $30s at both hubs.

In the Midwest, month-ahead power deals fell by more than $1 to the low $30s at PJM AD but bucked the wider decline with a roughly 10-cent uptick to the high $20s at PJM Northern Illinois and a better-than-$1 advance to the low $30s at MISO Indiana. Along the forward curve, power trades for April were similarly done in the high $20s to the low $30s overall.

In the South, the ERCOT markets saw March power prices shed about 20 cents to 35 cents in transactions carried out in the low $20s into the low $30s. Regional trading activity for April power spanned the high $20s to the low $30s.

In the West, a roughly 80-cent reduction took North Path-15 March to the high $20s and a near $2 decline steered South Path-15 March to the low $30s, while Mid-Columbia March was off 50 cents on the day in the high $10s and Palo Verde March was down almost 60 cents in the low $20s. April power was assessed in the low $10s at Mid-Columbia and in the low to high $20s elsewhere in the region.

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Market prices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power and natural gas index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities Pages.